Iowa INDYCAR 250s preview – part #3 – it’s never to early to look at points – title and rookie points permutations

Title chase

It’s really never too early to start looking at the championship points situation, but that’s even more true with a shortened 2020 season.

By the time that the drivers get the checkered flag on the second race at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night, the NTT INDYCAR® SERIES season, with 300 of 750 points already distributed, will be fast approaching the half-way pole at breakneck speed.

With three wins in the first four races, five-time INDYCAR champion Scott Dixon, has a big head start on the way to his sixth title.

The bad news for Dixon’s rivals? The Kiwi’s current lead over sophomore Colton Herta is currently 54 points. That is the largest championship lead after four races since 1998, the point in time that the current scoring system (basically) came into play.

The good news(ish)? The eventual champion has been more than 54 points back after four races on three occasions.

In 2012, Ryan Hunter-Reay was fourth in points and trailed leader Will Power by 59 points.
In 2010, Dario Franchitti was fifth in points and trailed Power by 60 points.
In 1999, Greg Ray was seventh in points and trailed championship leader Scott Goodyear by 70 points.

NTT INDYCAR® SERIES points after four races.

1Scott Dixon 173 
2Colton Herta 119-54
3TPato O’Ward 110-63
3TSimon Pagenaud 110-63
5Josef Newgarden 106-67
6Marcus Ericsson 93-80
7Will Power 92-81
8TFelix Rosenqvist 88-85
8TGraham Rahal 88-85
10Santino Ferrucci 87-86
11Ryan Hunter-Reay 81-92
12Álex Palou (R) 79-94
13Zach Veach 78-95
14Rinus VeeKay (R) 71-102
15Charlie Kimball 70-103
16Takuma Sato 69-104
17Conor Daly 67-106
18Alexander Rossi 66-107
19Oliver Askew (R) 51-122
20Jack Harvey 49-124
21Marco Andretti 43-130
22Max Chilton 42-131
23James Hinchcliffe 31-142
24Ed Carpenter 30-143
25Dalton Kellett (R) 29-144
26Tony Kanaan 20-153
27Sage Karam 7-166
28Spencer Pigot 7-166

Rookie chase

The Rookie of the Year (ROY) is shaping up to be as exciting as advertised. The NTT INDYCAR® SERIES has contested three race weekends, and a different driver has led the ROY points standings at when the checkered flag fell on the weekend.

2019 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion Oliver Askew was the first year driver to grab a top ten finish and led after Texas Motor Speedway.

Askew’s closest competition for last year’s Indy Lights championship, Ed Carpenter Racing rookie Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay), was the first newcomer to grab a top-five finish and left the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course round as the top rookie.

However, it’s Álex Palou, a Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh rookie that leads the way as the series leaves Wisconsin for Iowa. Palou is the first and so far only, rookie to stand on the podium this year.

“It’s going to be my first experience on a short oval, which means another completely new experience for me,” said the 23-year-old. “I now have to switch my mind back to oval racing; it’s not a road course anymore. It’s not my specialty, so that it will be a lot of learning once again as a rookie. Everyone has told me that Iowa is going to be crazy, that it’s a difficult race with the bumps. We have two races again this weekend, so it will be demanding, but it will also be good to help me gain as much experience as possible on that type of track.”

Askew and VeeKay are both making their first INDYCAR start on a short-oval and at Iowa Speedway, but they have both visited the bullring in the past, with Askew winning a 2017 USF2000 race and VeeKay finishing right behind him.

In five career Road To Indy oval starts, Askew has three wins, including two last year in Indy Lights. VeeKay also has five Road To Indy oval starts and has one win and four podiums.

2020 NTT INDYCAR® SERIES Rookie Points

1Álex Palou (R) 79 
2Rinus VeeKay (R) 71-8
3Oliver Askew (R) 51-28
4Dalton Kellett (R) 29-50